We’re celebrating these inspiring women and their innovations that are leading the way to a greener future.
1. Nonreflective Glass
Dr. Katharine Burr Blodgett created a technique to spread films only a molecule thick. In 1939 she patented her process, which has since been used on most of the household glass we interact with. Dr. Blodgett’s invention also makes energy-saving triple-glazed insulated windows possible without any noticeable distortion of the view. The benefit of her process was glare reduction. By spreading multiple sheets only a molecule thick she was able to reduce light glare on glass by about 99%, creating the first invisible glass. In addition to energy-saving insulated windows, we use her invention in eye-glasses, windshields, computer screens, and camera lenses.
2. Solar House
Dr. Maria Telkes and Architect Eleanor Raymond built the first solar-heated house in the mid-1940’s. While Dr. Telkes solar design didn’t use any form of solar panels, her drive and belief in researching solar power options pioneered solar power research.
3. Solar Oven
In the 1970’s Ford Foundation commissioned Dr. Telkes to build a solar oven for use in poor countries. Dr. Telkes created an oven that consistently reached 350° even when the external weather was 60°.
4. Ceramic Superconductors in Photovoltaics
Dr. Uma Chowdhry modified ceramics that were previously used as electrical insulators, to become powerful conductors of electricity. Called Superconductors, Dr. Chowdhry’s invention has many daily applications and is a key technology for Very High Efficiency Solar Cells (VHESC).
5. Recycled Lead for Solar Energy
Perovskite Solar Panels are unique in their potential to be light-weight, flexible and highly efficient. One problem with manufacturing them is that they require a small amount of led. Dr. Paula Hammond and Dr. Angela Belcher proposed an eco-friendly solution to recycle the lead from discarded lead-acid batteries. Remove lead from landfills, save more lead from being mined, promote solar power, it’s a win/win/win. Hammond, Belcher, and other researchers working on the project hope that by the time acid-lead batteries are used up, research would have found a less-toxic equally efficient replacement for the lead component.
6. Very High Efficiency Solar Cell (VHESC)
Dr. Christiana Honsberg is the co-inventor of Very High Efficiency Solar Cells or VHESC. While the average solar cell currently sold for home installation achieves around 15% efficiency, Dr. Honsberg’s VHESC are intended to reach 50% efficiency. While the cells aren’t completely out of the design phase, they are already achieving 42.8% efficiency. These cells will make green energy more portable and require less installation for the same amount of energy.